The Switch is perfect for quaint 2D platformers and this is no different. It channels its inner Super Meat Boy and Celeste. It’s a mishmash made in heaven, and I’m absolutely here for the ride, but what's more is that Sunblaze is a jaunt that takes you into a world of VR where you’re training to be a superhero, much like your dear ol’ dad. Hopefully, things don’t turn sour like Invincible and leave us pummelled into the ground after a tearful revelation. Superheroes really do go both ways lately.
Something that I treasure about The Last of Us 2, even if I loathe Joel, is his fatherly banter with his pseudo-daughter. That relationship with him trying to level and relate despite the lengthy age gap is adorable, so when I found that something similar leaked into the writing of Sunblaze, I was taken back. It’s a stunning entry into the characters with Josie and her dad having that instantaneous bond that comes off as playful and cringy in the best of ways, like a purposefully repulsive episode of The Office. I’m looking at you, Christmas Party. A perfect balance is struck between that fine line of terribly awkward and comical, and it sets a precedent for the narrative’s quality. You’re stepping into a romp that’s infectiously charming in all the right ways.
Plowing through that tutorial and the story slides, you arrive at the bulk of the experience, the puzzling and the platforming. The challenge, as you’d expect, gradually ramps up, but it never gets to the point where it's unbearable. It offers enough to give a similar experience for Super Meat Boy fans in terms of its challenge, but it’s not quite as arduous. In fact, it’s likely a better entry into this sect of platformers, and for that alone, it’s a worthy endeavour. There was never a point where I got stuck for hours or found myself trapped, wanting to throw my Switch against the wall. But who knows? Maybe that’d fix the damned drift.
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It’s visually striking, with even the obstacles dotting the path illuminating the neon-clad digital space in a spectacle of beauty. There’s TNT crates, barricades, lasers, and - of course - spikes. It wouldn’t be a 2D platformer without pesky spikes making ill-timed jumps a punishing affair. The sprites also have that squashed chibi feel to them which is awfully sweet. I have a soft spot for Chibi’s, and that means I won’t take any Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl slander. The more games that embrace this style, the merrier.
Trying to think up bad points for games like this is always a toughie. To be frank, playing through it, there’s not much that stands out as positively negative. Through and through, it’s an extension of everything I love about the genre, all while not really adding that much to it. It’s what you’d expect, and what I expected was a great way to kill some time this weekend while I wind down from work. It succeeded in that; it did so in spades. It’s short and sweet, taking me about seven hours to wrap up, so if you don’t like snappy experiences, then there’s your fault. Otherwise, it’s a perfectly average platformer that does everything you’d want it to. Not every game needs to be a revolutionary 10/10. Sometimes, you just need something to slap on and lose yourself in a bout of escapism, especially when you’re having a rough time.
Final Score: 75%
Sunblaze is a lovely escapade packed to the brim with hundreds of increasingly difficult levels, and it’s a treat. I’d recommend this to anybody who wants to get into the harder platformers, taking that initial leap from the likes of Mario. Otherwise, it’s another great entry to try out for existing fans, and certainly acts as a wonderful tie-over until the next big release which, for me, is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Sorry Nintendo, I’m back to Sony this month.
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